Every street light in Morecambe has a red plastic poppy attached to it. No explanation provided, none needed. There are hundreds of them and I had assumed it was done by the council or the Royal British Legion. I have had mixed feelings about it: partly unhappy about the glorification of war, partly supporting the ‘never again’ concept, partly interested there are no words required.
Now it turns out it has all been done by one individual to “to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War 1“, rather than as an act of remembering “Never again”. It all came out because he is refusing to pay the owner of the copyright to the image he used. He said he wanted to use it for one limited purpose last year and has instead used it for this two-year long street display. It has turned into a public row in the local media. The council won’t get involved: they said no permission was sought but they won’t be asking for them to be taken down.
Having seen the Facebook page of the person responsible and their web site, I have emailed them some questions:
I am confused about what you are doing here. Why are you celebrating the start of the Great War? I don’t understand why anyone would celebrate the start of such carnage.
Your Facebook page says you intend to send money to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, but they are already fully funded by commonwealth countries.
You are collecting money, but are you a registered charity? Do you publish accounts? How much of the money raised is spent on administration, etc.?
They claim to be a charity, but do not give any details of the organisation address, let alone a registered charity number. They say proceeds from sales and donations will go to the Royal British Legion and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission but give no details of how much has been raised or donated.
I have three times come across fake ‘charities’ raising money for our troops, once in a shopping centre, once outside a supermarket and once in a train station. They claimed to be charities, but were not registered, and I could find no details of them online. In one instance, in a shopping centre, one of the two chaps working the stall physically challenged me when I was trying to work out who they were and suggested it was in m health interest to move along.
The one in the train station was staffed by two people in incomplete British Army uniforms (as in, bought in an army surplus store or online) who, when I challenged them, eventually admitted one of them was ex-services and the money raised was for his upkeep. They claimed to be a charity but were not, they just kept what they raised.
The one outside a supermarket was using a mixture of Help for Heroes and Royal British British Legion logos, images and material, which is very odd. I asked who they were raising money for and the old boy with the collecting tin said he wasn’t sure, he was volunteering to collect money because he was asked to.
The more I read about Morecambe Poppy Scatter, the less I like what I read. I’d like to be wrong, but they appear to be celebrating the Great War, gathering money, using other people’s copyright and there’s no record of who they are, what has been gathered or what has been given out or to whom.
But it does show just how easy it is to raise money to celebrate killing people, with no questions asked.